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Conservancy Building in Rochester High Street to be auctioned for as little as £400,000

By Nicola Jordan

An historic Grade II listed building in the heart of a town is set to go under the hammer for as little as £400,000.

The Conservancy Building in Rochester High Street, an iconic landmark which has served as an annexe to the Guildhall Museum, has been the focus of fiery exchanges between councillors and campaigners in recent weeks.

It sparked anger when Medway Council's ruling Conservative group deemed it "surplus to requirements".

The Conservancy Building, near the Guildhall Museum in Rochester. Picture: Google Street View
The Conservancy Building, near the Guildhall Museum in Rochester. Picture: Google Street View

Proceeds from the sale are set to go towards massive refurbishment needed at the Corn Exchange and to update the museum.

But historians argue it is a loss of a tourism gem in the town and should have been saved at all costs.

The Conservancy Building is set to be sold at the next Clive Emson auction on Monday, October 29, at the Kent Showground in Detling, near Maidstone.

The brochure describes it as "a truly outstanding opportunity."

It said: "Befitting the building's historic past and purpose, there are many attractive and ornate features within the building and it is considered that there are a variety of potential future uses for the property, subject to all the necessary consents being available."

The building is a Grade II listed site within the historic conservation area, which was built in 1909 and originally used as offices for the Medway Conservancy Board.

In the 1980s it became part of the adjoining museum and was used to store archives.

The Conservancy Building, near the Guildhall Museum in Rochester. Picture: Google Street View
The Conservancy Building, near the Guildhall Museum in Rochester. Picture: Google Street View

It comprises a basement, ground and first floor where there is a main feature front room with two original fireplaces and access to a viewing area.

Money will go towards renovating the 18th century Corn Exchange which the council wants to promote as a venue for functions and meetings.

When the plan was announced in May, Tory ward councillor Stuart Tranter, said: "Despite good progress,it is still difficult for some people to physically access the museum and keeping displays up-to-date was a challenge.

In his newsletter Cllr Tranter added that the Conservancy Building was "often missed out" by visitors and was seen as little more than repository for Victorian exhibits.

But his colleague ward councillor Labour' s Alex Paterson felt that it had educational use.

Labour councillors questioned the lack of information and scrutiny of the decision to shut it.

Thousands of artefacts will be rehoused at the Guildhall and Eastgate House.

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